A Literature Review
There is a credible amount of research establishing the healing effects of visual art in acute care hospital settings, over the relatively short period of stay of inpatients. There is a need to extend this research in terms of its long-term effects on quality of life, especially in the context of older adults who may receive healthcare outside institutional settings. This paper provides a short overview of the current body of literature on healing visual arts and puts it in the context of the physical, emotional and cognitive needs of older adults. It explores the role of art as both a participative medium, and a more passive medium, in engaging older adults and improving quality of life. Finally it creates a theoretical foundation for new research on visual art as an integral part of the aesthetics and design of environments for older adults, whether they live independently or in some type of long-term care facility. The review of studies with older adults suggests that both viewing and making art contribute to overall improvement in health and well-being. As our country ages, we need a great deal more knowledge about how humane and supportive spaces can be designed and how non-pharmaceutical interventions such as art can be integral to that design.
Published Report for National Academy of Sciences—2012